I read another book by the author set earlier in Australia’s history and enjoyed it so I was happy to snag this one when I came across it. The setting, the time period, and the interesting premise drew me in to this gently-paced, reverse Pygmalionish story about a young, wealthy Aussie sheep rancher who hires a teacher to help polish him so he can impress an aristocratic English lady.
The story is set in 1902 and begins with young Kate Courtney finishing up teacher’s college and ready to brave the world. She has heard one of the well-spoken feminists of the day and likes the idea of being an Independent Woman who will intrepidly step out on her own and pave her own trail of success. She spots an advertisement for a governess needed for a position in the country. Kate is a city girl, but she is willing to travel many miles away and into a place without all the comforts of the city both for the adventure and to get away from the young man who used her and tossed her aside.
On arrival, Kate is startled to learn that her pupil is not the son of the family, but the wealthy, handsome owner of the vast station with the great house. Tom’s story and his need engages her sympathy right away. He is a wonderful man and a gentleman at heart. Kate wants to see him show up the snobby lady that laughed at him and sent him away, but almost from the beginning she has to work hard not to let her feelings for Tom get in the way only to decide later to give him another chance by visiting him from England. He is everything she likes in a man, but she is aware that he is destined to be someone else’s man.
Kate learns to love Tom’s home, the land, the people, and everything including Tom, but when the moment arrives for him to meet his beloved’s ship, she knows her dreams are over. If only…
The story is a gently-paced sweet romance though the romance is somewhat one-sided for much of the book. Kate is the narrator for most of it though Tom gets his turn later in the story. Kate falls for Tom right away, but must keep things professional. It is bittersweet to see them connect and become friends all the while Tom is oblivious to the real treasure he already has if he would but see it. There are no real surprises in the story and it follows a path that the reader can easily guess what comes next, but that didn’t take away from the enjoyment of watching it all unfold.
The author took the time to write in some historical backdrop to the time period including Kate’s ‘Independent Woman’ ideas. I found her a little irksome when she got up on her high horse about it because it was a case of a little knowledge being dangerous and her need to overdo it and take offense when I thought it was obvious that Tom respected her as an equal if not a superior. She would hastily realize she made mistakes which righted it for me so it wasn’t more than a mild annoyance especially when Tom was so oblivious toward the end and I wanted to pop him so he’d see the truth about both women in his life before it was too late.
The characters were both engaging. I liked them individually and together. The build of friendship and time developing an actual trust and relationship over several weeks was well done. It is the little every day things that warm the heart and engage the reader.
All in all, this moderate and sweet story was a good choice for curling up and getting cozy with an easy going historical romance. Those who enjoy sweeter historical friends to lovers romance might want to give this a try.
My thanks to Escape Publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #89 HR
Literary Pickers #85 steampowered vehicle
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